July 15, 2024

Defence Minister Richard Marles will attend next week’s NATO summit in Washington DC, a decision that has prompted criticism of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Marles confirmed he would attend “elements” of the 2024 summit from July 9-11.

Australia is not a member of the NATO treaty organisation, but is classed as an “observer nation”.

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“As a non-NATO member, Australia shares a commitment to peace and security with NATO partners, including support for Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion,” Marles’ office said in a brief statement yesterday.

“The Deputy Prime Minister’s attendance at the 75th NATO Summit underscores Australia’s commitment to advocate for our region’s strategic priorities and the upholding of the global rules-based order, while advancing Australia’s security, economic and trade agenda.”

However, the government’s decision to send Marles rather than Albanese to the summit has provoked criticism, with opposition leader Peter Dutton saying it went against the country’s national interest.

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“I made a decision a while ago, and we made a decision to send Richard Marles, who is our defence minister, as you just heard,” Albanese said in an interview with the ABC overnight.

“While the prime minister will be absent, Australia won’t be.

“Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles is attending to represent our nation.”

The summit is expected to address international situations including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ongoing tensions between the West and China, and the Israel-Hamas war devastating Gaza.

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